Volleyball Downs Middlebury 3-1 on Senior Night in Cousens Gym

MEDFORD –  On a night where the Tufts volleyball team honored senior Alex Garrett, the Jumbos also picked up a convincing 3-1 win over NESCAC rival Middlebury.  The win helps the Jumbos improve to an unblemished 8-0 in conference play with two NESCAC matches remaining on the schedule. 

Maddie Stewart turned in a career-high 11 kills for the Jumbos Friday night.

Tufts is now 14-4 overall with an 8-0 NESCAC mark. The Panthers fall to 13-4 overall and 5-2 in conference play this year. 

The Jumbos took an early lead in the first set, but the Panthers would tie things at eight. With things tied at nine the Jumbos got a kill from freshman Jennifer Ryan, a Panther error, an ace from sophomore Brigid Bell and a kill from junior Mackenzie Bright to take the 13-9 lead.  Though the Panthers fought back, and even came within a point, the Jumbos would hold on to that lead and pick up the 25-19 win in set one.  

It was Middlebury that took the early lead in the second set, and held on to that lead to pick up the 25-15 win in set two. 

In the third set the Jumbos jumped out to the early lead and would have as much as a four point advantage early.  The Panthers tied things up at 15, and then took the lead thanks to kills from Isabel Sessions and Alice Roberts, and a Jumbo error.  The Jumbos answered with kills from sophomores Maddie Stewart and Christina Nwankpa, to take the one point advantage before a Middlebury timeout. 

Things would be locked again at 19, but the Jumbos scored five points behind the serve of Garrett to take the 24-19 advantage.  The Panthers got a kill from Sessions and a Jumbo error to come within three, 24-21.  But, a Panther service error gave the Jumbos the 25-21 win in set three. 

Set four would be maybe the closest of the evening.  After Middlebury took a lead, the Jumbos tied things at eight and the two teams traded the lead for most of the rest of the set.  The score was tied 13 times the duration of the set.  With things locked at 23, the Jumbos got a kill from Nwankpa and then a service ace from Garrett sealed the 25-23 win for the Jumbos in set four. 

Bright was the kill leader for the Jumbos, finishing with 15, as Nwanpka and Stewart each added 11 of their own.  The 11 kills are a career-high for Stewart, who also added five blocks to her night.  Nwanpka finished with six blocks.  Sophomore Kelly Klimo was stellar defensively for the Jumbos, finishing with 18 kills for the Jumbos.  Junior Angela Yu added 14 digs and Garrett finished with 12 digs for the Jumbos.  Yu and sophomore Rachel Furash took care of the setting, totaling 36 and 12 assists, respectively.  

Roberts was the offensive leader for the Panthers, turning in 12 kills and Becca Raffel added 11 to the evening.  Defensively, Gigi Alper turned in 17 digs and Shea Golden added 11 of her own.  Emma Walsh ran the offense, picking up 32 assists for the Panthers. 

The Jumbos play again on Saturday when they travel to Endicott to take on WPI at 2 pm and Endicott at 4:30 pm.  The Panthers play at Bowdoin on Saturday at 1 pm and then face Maine-Presque Isle at 3:30 pm at Bowdoin.